Just wondering how most other worship teams select their music. What factors go in to what music you play? Does it ultimately come down to one person's (pastor, worship leader, etc) decision and others follow, or is it a team decision, or what? Do you base your selections on the sermon topic, the type of people in attendance, or simply by what the worship leader or pastor likes or that the songs are easy to play or best fit your style? Do you do research in what other churches are playing, what Christian radio stations are playing or charts?
How about a list of factors that influence your choices in songs the most.
I am the worship pastor, and as such I plan the music for the services. The preaching pastor gives me his theme and I work within that theme (as close as possible) to develop the flow of worship, including specials, prayer, communion etc.
I do a lot of reading about what other churches are doing in worship and think it is very important that we understand the culture around us.
As far as type or style, we have chosen to use more comtempory, modern music, although we certainly use hymns (often reworked).
I try to work out the songs and order by theme, key and tempo in order to create a sense of flow.
Usually I select the songs, and I forward the set list to my pastor (he's also on the worship team). Usually he approves of it. Sometimes he'll warn me in advance of a sermon series he's doing, and will request a certain song for it, but usually it's just me.
I select music based on theme (sometimes from the sermon, sometimes my pastor doesn't know what he's preaching until Friday or Saturday before Sunday, so I can't always coordinate with that).
If I don't have a sermon theme I'll at least try to stick with a particular theme within the worship set itself.
Vocal range is another picky issue. I'm even more of an oddball than a tenor, I'm a counter tenor, and I have problems with low notes more than high notes (anything lower than middle C forget it). But I try to keep the songs going no higher than a D above high C. So songs with too wide of a range are out.
We try to be a nice blend of modern and traditional, so like to use new songs, but I'll also use old hymns as well. Sometimes I'll change the chords on the hymns so they fit better in a contemporary service.
The last issue is technical. If a song is too difficult we just won't do it.
Most of the time we receive our pastor's sermon ahead of time. Several of us will read it 2 or 3 times and see what songs hit our spirits, or we'll stick with the overall theme of the sermon. Our lead singer/worshiper has a great vocal range so we can stay within the key of the original music, often times with other surprises.
Great question and my worship team often asks this. If I played what I wanted to play, we'd do nothing but Salvador and Tower of Power songs each week. I am blessed with a great horn section.
If I played what the pastor wanted me to play we'd be doing hymns and Gaither. But I work in this state of prayer that delivers a great set almost weekly.
I have ingrained this passage from George Muller's autobiography in my head. George was a remarkable pastor of the early 1800s who is best remembered for starting many orphanages in England. Pretty much Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God" was based on this old text:
Concerning all decisions he stated:
1. I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that is has no will of its own in regard to any given matter. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the knowledge of what His will is.
2. Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
3. I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also.
4. Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God's Will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
5. I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.
6. Thus, through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly.
I guess I'm the 'odd one'.....I've been a worship leader/concert artist for many years.....I spend a great deal of time on the road....but Worship is my first passion. I actually pray and God's puts the list together! I've done it this way for years! The Lord will accept my suggestions from time to time , but I find the Pastor(s) saying "You already preach the sermon with your songs"....and I never know what the sermon is before hand......maybe a rare occassion the Pastor might call and mention something special to me, but then I go to God and FATHER ALWAYS KNOWS BEST. If I let too many 'rules' get in my way, I find the Holy Spirit does not move as freely. I am also blessed to have a worship team that is not only anointed and talented, but follows the "lead" as well. It all comes down to knowing God and spending a great deal of time with Him....like HE said....my sheep know my voice and they follow.
It all starts in the secret place, in my own personal worship time. Often I will have a song in my head the whole week. That's where I start and see where it goes from there. Sometimes I have a sense of what God wants to say and I look for a song to be the "cornerstone" of the worship set.
The Sr. Pastor sets the tone for the church and for the service so I'm always submissive to what he wants. Most times I just go to the secret place and Ask God what He wants to say and the Holy Spirit works it all out. I am always amazed at how things come together. I'm a slow learner I guess :-)
It's after that process that I take into consideration keys, arrangements, transitions, how many new songs vs. old standards. It all seems to come together. Sometimes there is nothing from God and I believe in those times God is saying "what do you want to say to me this week" Those are good as well. He is so faithful to His people. Always keep in mind these are God's people which He bought, Acts 20:28, we are called to steward them faithfully.
Well Dan, you seem to have spelled it out really well in your last post. An honest question without any malice or anger. Have you tried talking to your worship leader about this? A worship leader's job is much more than just picking some songs and performing them. I feel a worship leader is also responsible for the spiritual and personal growth and well being of the team. If you were on my team and you brought this concern to me in the way you worded it in your post I would be glad you brought it to me and would work through it with you in a positive way. None of the worship leaders I know would be offended be this question.
Oh good point, I didn't read the question that way. My worship team knows that once we start playing a service, suggestions are not a good idea unless I ask for them. We need to be focused and confident in the music I've chosen so we can focus on leading the congregation. I will entertain suggested changes at our Thursday night rehearsal and tend to use about 20% of those suggestions for that week. I am much more receptive to song suggestions prior to Thursday rehearsal. The more lead time the better I am able to work the songs in. My pastor and I work very hard to coordinate all aspects of our services to support a common message. I know our congregation well enough to know what songs and styles they respond to in what ways. I look for scriptural basis for the songs I pick a lot of the time. As we plan out a series of services for a topic we might be saving a song for week three because it fits so well even when we could have used it for week 2. A song might support a video clip the pastor is going to use. There are a lot of things that go into planning music at my church including bulletins being printed with the song names Friday morning. I try to use all song suggestions I get from my team, my congregation, and my pastor. When and how I use them is the trick. Sometimes I will hold onto a song suggestion until I have a service coming up that can use that message and I've given my team time to learn the song. I don't like to throw new music at my team without giving them time to work it out. One thing I do accept more of at rehearsal is the dynamics and arrangement. I'll have a song worked out in my head one way and during rehearsal someone will have an idea for an alternate arrangement or different dynamics and I tend to go with their suggestion about 75% of the time. On Sunday if one of my team feels the spirit pulling them to "do that chorus again" they know they have the freedom to lead us in that direction with the proper vocal queue.
So, timing can help. Giving a suggestion on short notice and feeling let down if it doesn't happen that week isn't really fair to your worship leader. Giving a suggestion and leaving it up to the worship leader to use it when and how he or she needs to is much better. If none of your suggestions every make it into a set I don't see a problem asking your leader about it. I know I get song names tossed at me from all different directions and if I'm not in a position to write it down I know it will be gone later. I tend to make people aware of this. Thanking them and either writing it down or asking them to email the song name to me so I don't forget it. I'll also tell them I'll have to find the right week to work it in so it supports the message.
If this is bothering you the worship leader needs to know. You said your team just got through a lot of turmoil. Your leader doesn't need more troubled feelings brewing. Open and honest is a much better way. I would hate to think someone was stewing over something I could either fix very easily or explain to hopefully clear up any misunderstanding or difference in expectations. I want my team to be free to lead worship, not be burdened by troubled feelings. Especially don't start talking to other team members behind your leaders back about your feelings on this. I just got our team past a tough time that could all have been averted by a little communication.